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Max Blumenthal on Security Forum (Eugen Leitl)

First, glad to be here. Missed the cypherpunks the first time around.
I'm going to want to get to know you folks for my ongoing coverage of --
and book project on -- Snowden, NSA and the surveillance-industrial

Second, while it's nice (and rather unexpected) to get a shout-out from
Alternet, I wouldn't agree that every other journalist at Aspen was an
acolyte. Michael Isikoff did a good job of pushing his panel, especially
U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride, who is Snowden's designated prosecutor (and
is trying to jail James Risen to force testimony in the Sterling leak
case). Pete Williams is also a terrific reporter. He met charm with
charm but gently walked Keith Alexander into a corner, eliciting
unambiguous statements that the NSA will have to defend as time goes on.
Plus, he called on people he knew would ask tough questions.

Oh, and yes, Aspen covered my travel costs. I assume it did the same for
others. No speaker fee was offered or requested.

On 7/30/13 12:00 PM, Eugen Leitl <[email protected]>  wrote:

Subject: Max Blumenthal on Security Forum

(it's Alternet, so caveat lector)



With perhaps one notable exception, none of the high-flying reporters
junketed to Aspen to act as interlocutors seemed terribly interested in
interrogating the logic of the war on terror. The spectacle was a perfect
window into the world of access journalism, with media professionals
brown-nosing national security elites committed to secrecy and surveillance,
avoiding overly adversarial questions but making sure to ask the requisite
question about how much Snowden has caused terrorists to change their

Jeff Harris, the communications director for the Aspen Institute, did not
respond to questions I submitted about whether the journalists who
participated in the Security Forum accepted fees. (It is likely that all
relied on Aspen to at least cover lodging and travel costs).


"You have to do [domestic surveillance] within a closed bubble in order to do
it effectively," Dennis Blair, the director of National Intelligence conceded
under sustained grilling from the Washington Post's Barton Gellman, one of
the reporters who broke Snowden's leaks and perhaps the only journalist at
the Security Forum who subjected participants to tough scrutiny.

When Gellman reminded Alexander that none of the oversight mechanisms
currently in place could determine if the NSA had improperly targeted
American citizens with no involvement in terror-related activity, the general
declared, "we self-report those mistakes."

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